ACTE Techniques January 2012 : Page 41

MTC Leading the Way into Lucrative Employment Quintin’s family connection to the nuclear industry was augmented by his participa-tion in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) in high school. Developed in the late 1990s, PLTW addresses the country’s need for more leaders in science, technology, engi-neering and mathematics (STEM). Since 2006, MTC’s participation in PLTW has allowed high school students like Quin-tin to earn transferable credits toward specific engineering and science programs at MTC. Perkins IV mandates to adopt a Program of Study (POS) prompted the college to expand its PLTW partnerships in 2007, strengthening the pathway for more students to enter the college. Eight secondary school districts are involved in the POS partnership, and there is a new focus on transferring students into the college’s Nuclear Systems Technology program. (Approximately 30 percent of PLTW graduates enroll in the nuclear program after high school.) Program graduates should find em -ployment without too many problems. According to recent employment reports, the growing nuclear technology industry provides a bright spot amidst the nation’s economic woes. Over the next 20 years, the nationwide nuclear workforce is ex-pected to need 40,000 trained technicians and engineers, with more than half of that need based in the Southeastern United States. In response to this anticipated demand, MTC implemented the Nuclear Systems Technology program in 2009 through the help of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Clint Chan-dler, administrator for MTC’s nuclear program, is the principal investigator for the $3.1 million NSF grant which funded a Regional Center for Nuclear Education and Training. This collaborative agree-ment between 15 colleges and 27 industry partners is designed to provide quality training for nuclear technicians. “While nuclear energy remains contro-versial,” Chandler says, “nuclear plants are job generators and the world contin-ues to demand more energy.” In South Carolina alone, two new nuclear reactors are in the works at the SCANA/V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. MTC is focused on training and path-ways to make sure students can connect to those opportunities. The return on investment promises to be rewarding. According to Chandler, “a single new nuclear plant once operational can add 400 to 700 permanent jobs and millions of dollars to a local economy.” graduates, and anticipates that this num-ber will increase once the new plants are completed. Tri-County Technical College’s Health Care POS While MTC’s POS is focused on the STEM cluster, other parts of the state are focusing on health care. The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce reports that heath careers top the list for high-demand jobs within the state. Specifically, openings for registered nurses and physical and occupational therapists are most prevalent. The in-creasing demand for health care profes-sionals has had a tremendous influence on Tri-County Technical College (TCTC), located in the upper western part of South Carolina. This originally agrarian area has, over the last 30 years, shifted its concentration toward more industrial efforts and now toward training health professionals. According to a TCTC re-port from Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., the number of new and replacement Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) jobs increased by 26 percent between 2007 and 2011. Rising to meet the needs of the com-munity, TCTC developed partnerships with the three school districts in its service area to offer a program of study called LPN to Professor , funded initially through a Duke Endowment grant. Lynn Lewis, dean of health education at TCTC, states that the program allowed the college to cultivate those community partnerships needed to develop a seamless transition for nursing students through multiple educational levels; the goal is to increase the workforce population of nurses at the baccalaureate and higher degree level. Lewis says, “The ultimate goal is a higher level of education for the nursing workforce to positively impact patient out-comes. We are strengthening the ladder of success.” The LPN to Professor program allows juniors and seniors in high school to earn Januar y 2012 Techniques Business and Industry Support Key to MTC’s Success Located in the state’s metropolitan capi-tal, Columbia, MTC has much support from the local business and industry for its POS. A portion of Perkins funding sup-ports the college’s consortium partnership with the Midlands Education Business Alliance. Businesses such as SCANA, Michelin, CMC Steel, and Blue Cross, Blue Shield provide relevant training, job-shadowing opportunities, field studies, career fairs and industry tours for stu-dents and faculty. Connections with Duke Energy and Southern Company are also being developed. Furthermore, the col-lege uses social media sites like Facebook to highlight businesses that use alternative forms of energy. A recent post focused on a small company in downtown Columbia that installed a solar tree sculpture that is being used to power the store front (see page 42). The success of PLTW and the nuclear POS has not been without challenges. Chandler attributes any setbacks to com-mon issues such as the lack of time and money. Additionally, a rigorous process for regulatory approval of the new nuclear plant took longer than expected. For stu-dents, the promise of the nuclear program is the employment opportunity; however, that becomes an issue when there is a delay in the completion of plants in the area. Nevertheless, MTC has successfully placed 60 percent of its nuclear program 41

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